[REVIEW] Wizard Smoke – The Speed of Smoke

All you need to know about Wizard Smoke is right there in the band name. This is pure stoner doom – maybe a little ridiculous, but always in a wholly appropriate way. The band knows this stuff is all about sludgy tempos and huge, glassy-eyed riffs, and they deliver with clear reverence and enthusiasm for their chosen genre.

They also have a feel for the rhythm of an album. The Speed of Smoke opens and closes with its two most pummeling tracks.  The four in between reward patience as they gain force through repetition then peak at exactly the right moments.  It also helps that the production is exceptional – the little details come through loud and clear, and it’s those touches that give the songs their individual identities.  The acoustic guitar at the beginning of “Growing” and the vocoder on “Weakling” prevent the songs some from bleeding together.

The keyboards do much of that detail work, too, and it makes the instrument a darkhorse for album MVP.  Leaning too hard on the keys is maybe the surest way to turn a metal album into pure cheese, but Wizard Smoke employ the keyboard lines deliberately, typically in a supporting role, but swelling to the foreground when need.  Those keys add to the hypnotic effect of some of the longer songs, especially “Panama II.”

You can trace a clear line from Black Sabbath to The Speed of Smoke, with a detour through the Sleep catalog, and that’s perfectly alright with me.  This is metal as comfort food.  Crank it up and zone out.

Download the album for free here.  Pre-order it on vinyl here, but do it quickly – there’s only going to be 250 pressed.

 

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  1. June 30th, 2012

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